County Withdraws From Application For Housing Project In La Mesa
Speaker 1: 00:00 One new approach to housing. The homeless is to purchase motels and convert them into housing units. It appears to be a win, win situation, but there have already been bumps in the road to implementing the idea. This week, San Diego County supervisors withdrew an application to purchase a motel in Lamesa and convert it to homeless housing. After the Lamesa city council objected, it was a three to two vote and San Diego supervisor, Diane. Jacob was one of those who voted no on the project. She joins us now. Welcome to midday. Addition, supervisor Jacob. Now homelessness is obviously a huge challenge facing the region. Do you support the idea of using motels to provide housing for them? Speaker 2: 00:39 Oh, absolutely. I think it's a great idea. The problem with this situation is the process and the process was grossly flawed. The city of Mesa has a very robust plan for housing homeless and for affordable housing. And they, they would have been happy to work with the developer, excuse me, with the County in order to purchase property or another location of a motel or hotel, but they didn't have that chance to do it. They're basically blindsided by this project. So the city didn't want it. The residents didn't want it. And in a very short amount of time that they had to respond. That was the resounding no from the city of Lamesa. And I respect the city and I respect what they're trying to do. And I am a big supporter of providing homeless services in the County. We've spent hundreds of millions of dollars on mental health and addiction treatment. Every year in our current budget, we have $250 million for housing, the homeless and in the unincorporated area, which is the area that we have the jurisdiction over. We've had 512 people that have been placed in hotels this year alone. So yes, I support it. Speaker 1: 02:03 So if Lamesa city council had been for it, you would have supported it. Yeah. Why would you say motels are an ideal way of solving the issue and what are the drawbacks to that? Speaker 2: 02:13 Well, the, the motels and, and even the hotels, and in this case, the city would have lost about a half, a million dollars in revenue each year, uh, by converting this, this hotel into a residential development. So it'd be a loss of revenue, but the reason I support it, they already exist. So in a lot of cases, you get a better deal because the facility is there and after the due diligence has been done, if it is something that would work for a conversion, it probably is easier than to do then starting from scratch. But again, there'd have to be thorough due diligence to make sure that it works. Speaker 1: 02:56 The state money is what is being spent in project home key is this permanent or temporary bridge housing, Speaker 2: 03:05 It's temporary housing. And my understanding that a resident would only live there maybe one to two years, and then they wouldn't move on and then go somewhere else, which is another problem. And that gets into the whole affordable housing issue, which again goes back to our $50 million trust fund, which has been very successful so far. And we've leveraged, we've leveraged over $450 million through the public private partnership. So it's a, it's a good deal for taxpayers and we're building affordable housing. Speaker 1: 03:41 Um, no, the city of San Diego housing commission had said it would spend almost 20 million on acquiring hotels for the homeless, but they backed away from a plan to buy 10 motels because they said those buildings had too many problems. It would cost too much to remodel. So as the County looking to spend significant money on upgrading purchase properties, or are you looking for properties already in excellent condition? Speaker 2: 04:03 Well, the County has put up, uh, a lot of County property through our housing trust fund, the 50 million I mentioned earlier. And that's, that's a partnership and inviting developers in which has been a very successful program so far. So whether it's an existing motel or hotel that could be converted, or if it's a vacant piece of land and again, with the County putting up County property, there's no cost to the property so we can get a better deal. Speaker 1: 04:37 The costs associated with this are not just for the building, the roof over the head, as it were, there would need to be other services attached to it, right. To make it work the way you like it. Yeah. Speaker 2: 04:48 Yes. This the whole, the whole package would be for, uh, complete services. And, and, but the problem with this particular project and through the home key program, there is no guaranteed that the residents who would come off the street, which is a good thing, but the bad thing is there's no requirement to have them go into whatever services they need, whether it's mental health or addiction or whatever the needs are. That's a problem for me. Speaker 1: 05:22 I understand there were two members of the supervisors who did support the project. Um, and obviously the County has to find locations to put these projects. Do you have any other locations in mind? Speaker 2: 05:37 Well, we're again, working with the cities, we're working in the unincorporated area, which is within our jurisdiction. And I've been working with residents in spring Valley and in Lakeside in particular, which have the largest homeless population. And we've done a lot. As I mentioned earlier, we've put 512 people we've taken them off the streets and we put them into hotels through our voucher program. So we're, we have three steps to our program. One is the hotel motel voucher program, which we immediately are getting people off the streets. The second is for intermediate housing and then the permanent affordable housing. So there's a continuum here of care. And the whole goal is to get people off the street, provide them the services that they need and get them to be able to live self-sufficiency, to maintain in the end. That takes time. And it's taken a lot of money, but it's, it's an investment that the County is making in a very big way. We've been speaking with San Diego supervisor, Diane, Jacob supervisor, Jacob. Thank you so much. Thank you, Alison.